New pay agreements concluded in government sector

Over April-May 2002, new pay agreements were concluded for the three groups of employees of the Swedish central government - blue-collar workers, white-collar workers and professionals. All three accords run for 2.5 years and will expire in autumn 2004.

In the 2001 collective bargaining round, the social partners in the Swedish central government sector concluded pay agreements of only one year's duration for the three groups of employees - blue-collar workers, white-collar workers and professionals (SE0105102F). The reason for the unusually short agreement period (most sectoral agreements in Sweden currently run for three years) was that the parties were still bargaining over an overall accord on supplementary pensions for government employees. This deal was finally concluded in December 2001 (SE0201112N) and early in 2002 new pay negotiations started. The pay agreements reached in 2001 expired on 31 March 2002, but they were prolonged as the negotiations turned out to be somewhat complicated. The trade unions were rather unhappy with the local pay negotiation system, which carries risks of arbitrariness, they claimed.

The first agreement reached in the 2002 central government bargaining round was with the blue-collar workers' union, the Union for Service and Communication (Facket för Service and Communication, SEKO). On 7 April, SEKO and the Swedish Agency for Government Employers (Arbetsgivarverket) concluded a new pay agreement for about 22,000 union members working in areas such as rail, road, civil aviation and maritime administration, universities, national defence and the treatment of offenders. The agreement provides for a total increase in costs of 7.5% over 2.5 years. All workers are guaranteed a monthly pay rise of at least SEK 600. If the parties cannot agree on another distribution arrangement, pay will be increased in two instalments of 3% and 3.3%. Holiday pay will also be increased.

On 29 April 2002, a new 2.5-year pay agreement was concluded for about 70,000 professional workers in the government sector. Arbetsgivarverket negotiated in this case with SACO-S, the central government section of the Swedish Confederation of Professional Associations (Sveriges Akademikers Centralorganisation, SACO). As in the previous bargaining round, this collective agreement is 'without figures'- there are no recommendations on percentage or cash increases. New wage rates are to be decided in negotiations at each individual government authority. The employer may also suggest that an employee's pay should be decided directly in talks between the employer and employee. The new pay agreement contains a somewhat clearer formulation than its predecessor about the procedure in the event of disagreement over pay setting. A local wage committee will rule on the matter in the first instance, but it disagreement persists the case will be taken to negotiations at the national central level. If this is not successful, a central wage committee will makes the final decision. All wage committees are composed of an independent chair and representatives from both sides.

Finally, on 17 May 2002 the pay negotiations for 100,000 governmental white-collar employees were concluded. The Public Employees Negotiation Council (Offentliganställdas Förhandlingsråd, OFR) represented the employees, divided into police officers, officers in other services and government officials. Like the other two central government deals, the agreement runs for 2.5 years until 30 September 2004. If the parties cannot agree on another distribution arrangement, pay will be increased in two instalments of 3% and 3.3%. The monthly pay of all white-collar workers in employment at the beginning of the agreement period will be increased by at least SEK 600 by the end of the period. Holiday pay will be at least SEK 860 per day of holiday from 1 April 2002, SEK 900 from 1 April 2003 and SEK 935 from 1 April 2004. The total cost of the pay agreement is estimated at 6.5%.

In addition, police officers have had their initial salary increased by SEK 2,500 from SEK 16,500 month to SEK 19,000 per month, a rise of 15.2%. The Union of Police Officers (Polisförbundet) is satisfied with the new pay agreement. Christer Spjut, the union's head of negotiations, said that an upgrading of the police profession has at last been carried out, which will possibly give it a better status.

The employers have expressed their satisfaction with the bargaining and the three pay agreements.

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